Protein data bank opens new era with broader support

ARLINGTON, Va.- The assets of the Protein Data Bank (PDB) just keep growing.

The PDB holds the three-dimensional structures of nearly 24,000 proteins and other macromolecules in its growing - and publicly accessible - collection. Its holdings profile DNAs, RNAs, viruses, and various proteins, such as enzymes central to photosynthesis, growth, development and brain function.

This month, with a doubling in the number of the federal agencies supporting it, the PDB begins a new five-year, $30 million management era, the National Science Foundation announced today. The chapter opens following a new international agreement announced last month to pool and coordinate the deposit of molecular structure data globally.

Mary Clutter, assistant director for NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences, said, "The Protein Data Bank is a treasure chest of shared discoveries." This new agreement will ensure that it continues to serve biologists around the world as its collection grows and diversifies.

"Biological processes involve small molecular machines," she said. "Understanding how these machines function often begins with knowing how their parts are structured, how they fit together." Thus, to have these molecular structures archived comprehensively, centrally and consistently is of enormous value across the spectrum of biological research, from genomics to systems biology.

"And because of the data bank's openness and accessibility, individual researchers - and humanity as a whole - will continue to benefit from the collective research of thousands of biologists," Clutter said.

For example, the collection includes the intricate membrane channel proteins recognized in the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The structure of another PDB deposit, the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, also permeates biology. Showcased as the PDB's January 2004 "Molecule of the Month," it is crucial

Contact: Sean Kearns
National Science Foundation

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